Talon's Road to Success For DPC 2023 and TI12
Talon Esports was one of the biggest surprise stories that stemmed from the Southeast Asian (SEA) region in the previous Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC) season. The organization started the season with one of the most stacked teams in the region as it featured some incredibly talented cores including Major champions like Kim "Gabbi" Santos and Damien "kpii" Sau-jing in its lineup. Tal "Fly" Aizik, arguably one of the best captains in Dota 2, was also leading the team creating a lot of buzz about Talon Esports even before the season kicked off.
But surprisingly, the first iteration of the roster fell flat and even struggled to make it through the open qualifiers, eventually limping to a 5th place finish in the Lower Division of the first tour of the 2021/22 DPC league. But Talon managed to persevere, constantly reinventing its roster and evolving in a very short duration to become one of only three SEA teams to make it to The International 2022 (TI11).
Now, with a new season on the horizon, Talon Esports looks set to embark on another journey to climb to the biggest summits that Dota 2 has to offer with a revamped squad. Talon Esports’ Dota 2 squad now includes yet another Major winner Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong alongside Chan "Oli" Chon Kien who returns from his fairly successful stint in China.
AFK Gaming had a chance to catch up with Talon’s Chief Gaming Officer Kim Do-hoon and its star carry Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon ahead of the new season and talk about what Talon has to offer for the upcoming season.
Revamping Talon Esports' Dota 2 roster
In what turned out to be a breath of fresh air, unlike most other Dota 2 organizations, Talon revealed its new Dota 2 lineup weeks before the roster lock deadline. The team parted ways with kpii and Brizio "Hyde" Budiana just a week after the conclusion of TI11 and announced its new signings.
Talon's lineup for the 2023 DPC season:
Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon
Rafli "Mikoto" Rahman
Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong
Worawit "Q" Mekchai
Chan "Oli" Chon Kien
Do-hoon revealed that the team learned that it needed some strong leadership voices after the previous season and that he immediately worked towards fixing this issue at TI11. “We decided to extend with 23savage, Mikoto and Q,” he said. “These guys all had similar thoughts and we just wanted to bring players that they wanted to play with and also a coach as well. I just worked a lot at TI, talking with a lot of new players and coaches. Me being there and us having like a five-day break between the finals helped us out a lot and that's the main reason we were able to get a squad together as soon as possible.“
The team zeroed in on Jabz and Oli to fill the leadership voids in the team. “The team thought that we kind of lacked a good captain inside the game. I mean, Q tried his best, but unfortunately, he didn't have the most experience coming in. So we wanted to bring in someone that could mutually help each other out regarding the captain role,” he added.
Do-hoon explained that Jabz was the perfect fit for the team since he had leadership experience from his stints in Fnatic and Mineski. Do-hoon continued, “Oli also comes with a lot of experience from playing in China. He has a lot of experience in international tournaments and we did hear that he was very vocal inside the game, which we thought we needed.”
The signing of these two leadership figures has already given Talon an edge in the region. As a whole, SEA has always had a dearth of good captains with only a few exceptions like Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung and Park "March" Tae-won who have truly excelled. 23savage believed that this is due to the pub culture in SEA. “It is because most of the players only like playing and we don't really like to talk a lot in SEA. So mostly Dota 2 is like a solo game for us. It's just why we have a communication problem,” he said.
With the new signings, Talon has eliminated their communication woes on paper and has already set lofty goals for itself in the upcoming DPC season.
Talon’s goals for 2022/23 DPC Season
The Southeast Asian region is going to be more stacked than ever this DPC season with multiple all-star lineups including BOOM Esports, Fnatic, Bleed Esports, and Blacklist International potentially in the mix. Just making it through the SEA DPC Season and avoiding relegation could be a major challenge.
23savage also believes that the upcoming season is going to be quite challenging. “I heard that Bleed is gonna make a team and that they’re spending a lot on good players. So I think Bleed is one of the upcoming teams that we need to watch out for. Other than that, it's BOOM Esports,” he added.
But Talon Esports remains confident of its chances for the upcoming season. In fact, Do-hoon said that Talon is setting its sights a lot higher than just excelling in SEA in the new season.
“We're kind of tired of just qualifying,” said Do-hoon. “We are aiming to qualify for all the Majors and make it into the deep stages, like at least a top-four finish.” Additionally, he shared that Talon’s ultimate goal is to win TI, stating, “Honestly, all professional organizations have the same goal: to win TI. Ours is the same. I know it's not gonna be easy, but we just have to keep trying, fix the mistakes we made this year, and try to get as far as we can.”
23savage also shared the same goals, stating that he wants to directly qualify for The International 2023 (TI12) by securing enough DPC points and becoming one of the top 12 teams to receive direct invites to the event. “I want to play every major and get a good result in TI12,” he added.
Talon’s road forward
Interestingly, the organization has a thorough, well-rounded esports roadmap planned ahead. Talon is not putting all of its eggs in the Dota 2 and The International basket. The organization operates rosters in multiple titles including Dota 2, Valorant, League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Arena of Valor, Tekken, and Street Fighter. In fact, it recently received one of only ten slots in the upcoming Valorant Asia Pacific (APAC) League.
Talon is the only Thai representative in the APAC league which places it in a unique position. The team is expecting a lot of viewership from its home country as well as new markets like South Korea and Japan which will help it increase its revenue and sponsorships in the long run. “I honestly think there's only gonna be an upside to having a Valorant team,” said Do-hoon.
But we were curious to learn if Talon preferred the Riot Games model to the Dota 2 one. Do-hoon believes that the ideal model is somewhere in between. He explained that Riot operates a very tight ship. “They have everything scheduled out. They give straight, clear communication. And compared to that, honestly, Dota was a little bit more free. We're free to do anything we feel we can do,” he said, adding that Valve does not really interfere with content production or team operations.
Dohoon believed, “A good mix between the way Riot operates and how Dota operates would be a great solution to both games, but honestly, they both have pros and cons in each way. So it's kind of hard to compare because they're very differently operated.”
If Talon continues to see success on its road through Southeast Asian esports, we may see the organization expand and test out new waters in the region. “We're currently looking at mobile games. We're looking to expand into other Asian countries like India or Indonesia. But as of now, we do have to look at the current recession and the economy. We are just jumping into Valorant, so we might focus on it for a little bit more and then look at some possibilities outside of the games we're currently operating in,“ he added.
Talon Esports will begin its endeavor through the next DPC season when Tour 1 kicks off in January 2023.